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March 5, 2013

We Need To Prioritize A Coordinated U.S. Breeding Program

Michael Pollard believes it’s important to encourage riders to do embryo transfer with their top mares, such as his Schoensgreen Hanni, and put them in breeding programs when their sporting careers are finished. Photo by Lindsay Berreth
 
GLENNLEAFARM
1 year 18 weeks ago
American Bred Sporthorses
I have a couple of comments about this article. First of all, I have imported many warmbloods over the years. I have brought 2 to FEI and one is currently schooling GP dressage. I also have 3... Read More
ise@ssl (not verified)
1 year 18 weeks ago
A Response from a Breeders's standpoint.
In response to Michael Pollard’s thesis that “We Need to Prioritize a Coordinated U.S. Breeding Program, I would offer the following response. I’ve been breeding horses (and now sportponies) for... Read More

Comments

ise@ssl
1 year 18 weeks ago

A Response from a Breeders's standpoint.

In response to Michael Pollard’s thesis that “We Need to Prioritize a Coordinated U.S. Breeding Program, I would offer the following response. I’ve been breeding horses (and now sportponies) for sport for 26 years, which would mean that I’ve been at this since Mr. Pollard was 6 years old so my perspective on it will be somewhat different. I started out breeding Thoroughbreds for a few years and then used 3 superior TB mares to cross with Warmblood stallions. These foundation mares were from top distance running bloodlines and my results were and have been with their daughters and grand-daughters, quality sporthorses and also sportponies. In my experience, the loss of the distance running TB’s has been a travesty for our breeding in the U.S. The sprinting TB has a straighter shoulder (which is tough to breed out) and a lack of endurance that I feel is a necessary factor in breeding. These "old line TB's" gave breeders the ability to “lighten” the heavier Warmbloods to produce what is now referred to as the Modern Sporthorse. Trust me on this; we don’t need a Coordinated Breeding Program. What we lack is the system in Europe where a horse is tracked with ONE NUMBER FOR LIFE. The U.S. burdens breeders (and owners) with a costly and hideously complicated system for sporthorses that results in multiple numbers depending on discipline, an unreliable tracking system for competition results and a lack of interest by many riders and trainers in bloodlines and pedigree. This multiple Fiefdom approach also facilitates fraud as horses through name changes or ownership changes can be re-invented with respect to their pedigree or performance history. I can research a horse’s history in Germany with reliable information but CANNOT do the same here in the U.S. While the initial years of breeding sporthorses in the U.S. were not always successful with respect to quality, it is not the current state of affairs. US Breeders have successfully built a sporthorse mare base in this country that is on par with Europe. We are also producing offspring that are of the same quality as Europe. This is not solely a U.S. observation; this is from knowledgeable owners, breeders, judges across the pond. What we severely lack in this country are trainers who can start young horses using the Pyramid method and can cross-train these youngsters so they are not only more versatile but also have a solid foundation to build on to become “high performance competitors”. This deficiency is affecting every discipline. We have an abundance of upper level riders, who unlike their counterparts over the pond, feel it is beneath them to start young horses or even train them. The mantra in Dressage is that they want horses at PSG with changes. Training a horse to PSG with changes is seemingly not an option for them. And sadly many that do train younger horses rely on draw reins or other gadgets to ride the horses front to back instead of back to front. In my opinion we burn through a very high number of horses because of this. Instead of the old mantra of “flat work, flat work, flat work”, too many riders of all ages are looking for short cuts. As you have stated, our top Jumpers in the past often came from the track. Those distance running TB’s that were successful Jumpers are impossible to find. Our Jumper riders often moved up from the Hunters. I feel the Hunters have morphed into something that’s almost a joke. Riders from youngsters on up never seem to sit on the saddle; the number of strides seems to overtake the concept that these horses and ponies are “theoretically” to be suitable for “hunting”. Watching the classes almost puts one to sleep as these equines go around in slow motion with riders either six inches above the saddle or lying on the horse’s neck over the fence and everyone is mentally or vocally counting strides! I’ve never seen anyone count strides in the Hunt Field! I would support a return to the old format for Eventing as I believe the emphasis on Dressage and elimination of Roads & Tracks has created more problems than benefits. This provided the check on the condition of the horses prior to heading out Cross Country. I’ve watched as horses at the Horse Trials do very well in the Dressage phase and then have a very rough go at Stadium and Cross Country specifically because the Rider is hesitant to the fences and/or obstacles. We can’t always blame the horses. And finally Mr. Pollard – the Sporthorses Breeders in this country have young horses available for purchase and it is not hard to find us. But understand that most of Breeders who have been at this for decades are pretty darn selective about who we sell to because we want good horses to go to good situations with suitable riders. Breed shows in Europe have an abundance of spectators and buyers (many Americans among them), while our Breed shows in the U.S. have empty seats. Why can't U.S buyers accept that we have the same quality here?
GLENNLEAFARM
1 year 18 weeks ago

American Bred Sporthorses

I have a couple of comments about this article. First of all, I have imported many warmbloods over the years. I have brought 2 to FEI and one is currently schooling GP dressage. I also have 3 American bred sport ponies and 3 American bred warmbloods. You couldn't walk through my barn and tell me which ones came from this country or Europe. Secondly, don't pin this seeming lack of quality horse flesh on the US breeder. As a person who starts horses, and fixes the ones who are started wrong, that's where you should center your program ideas. We a national effort to see that the quality horses that are being bred in the US get the same quality start the European horses get.
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